Atlantic hurricane season stays quiet as predicted
Atlantic hurricane season officially ended November 30, and will be
remembered as a relatively quiet season as was predicted. Still, the
season afforded NOAA scientists with opportunities to produce new
forecast products, showcase successful modeling advancements, and
conduct research to benefit future forecasts.
much of the U.S. coastline was spared this year with only one
landfalling hurricane along the East Coast. Nevertheless, we know
that’s not always going to be the case,” said Louis Uccellini, Ph.D.,
director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “The ‘off season’ between
now and the start of next year’s hurricane season is the best time for
communities to refine their response plans and for businesses and
individuals to make sure they’re prepared for any potential storm.”
How the Atlantic Basin seasonal outlooks from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center verified:
Named storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher)
Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher)
Major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, 5; winds of at least 111 mph)
combination of atmospheric conditions acted to suppress the Atlantic
hurricane season, including very strong vertical wind shear, combined
with increased atmospheric stability, stronger sinking motion and drier
air across the tropical Atlantic,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead
hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Also, the
West African monsoon was near- to below average, making it more
difficult for African easterly waves to develop.”
the eastern North Pacific hurricane season met or exceeded expectations
with 20 named storms – the busiest since 1992. Of those, 14 became
hurricanes and eight were major hurricanes. NOAA’s seasonal hurricane
outlook called for 14 to 20 named storms, including seven to 11
hurricanes, of which three to six were expected to become major
Two hurricanes (Odile and Simon) brought much-needed moisture to the
parts of the southwestern U.S., with very heavy rain from Simon causing
flooding in some areas.
that favored an above-normal eastern Pacific hurricane season included
weak vertical wind shear, exceptionally moist and unstable air, and a
strong ridge of high pressure in the upper atmosphere that helped to
keep storms in a conducive environment for extended periods,” added
the central North Pacific hurricane basin, there were five named storms
(four hurricanes, including a major hurricane, and one tropical storm).
NOAA’s seasonal hurricane outlook called for four to seven tropical
cyclones to affect the central Pacific this season. The most notable
storm was major Hurricane Iselle, which hit the Big Island of Hawaii in
early August as a tropical storm, and was the first tropical cyclone to
make landfall in the main Hawaiian Islands since Hurricane Iniki in
1992. Hurricane Ana was also notable in that it was the longest-lived
tropical cyclone (13 days) of the season and the longest-lived central
Pacific storm of the satellite era.
NEW AND IMPROVED PRODUCTS THIS YEAR
part of its efforts to provide better products and services, NOAA's
National Weather Service introduced many new and experimental products
that are already paying off.
upgrade of the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model
in June with increased vertical resolution and improved physics
produced excellent forecasts for Hurricane Arthur’s landfall in the
Outer Banks of North Carolina, and provided outstanding track forecasts
in the Atlantic basin through the season.
model, developed by NOAA researchers, is also providing guidance on
tropical cyclones in other basins globally, including the Western
Pacific and North Indian Ocean basins, benefiting the Joint Typhoon
Warning Center and several international operational forecast agencies.
The Global Forecast System (GFS) model has also been a valuable tool
over the last couple of hurricane seasons, providing excellent guidance
in track forecasts out to 120 hours.
2014, NOAA's National Hurricane Center introduced an experimental
five-day Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook to accompany its text
product for both the Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins. The new
graphics indicate the likelihood of development and the potential
formation areas of new tropical cyclones during the next five
also introduced an experimental Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map for
those areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States at
risk of storm surge from an approaching tropical cyclone. First used on
July 1 as a strengthening Tropical Storm Arthur targeted the North
Carolina coastline, the map highlights those geographical areas where
inundation from storm surge could occur and the height above ground
that the water could reach.
with the 2015 hurricane season, NHC plans to offer a real-time
experimental storm surge watch/warning graphic for areas along the Gulf
and Atlantic coasts of the United States where there is a danger of
life-threatening storm surge inundation from an approaching tropical
FOSTERING FURTHER IMPROVEMENTS
this year’s hurricane season was fairly quiet, NOAA scientists used new
tools that have the potential to improve hurricane track and intensity
forecasts. Several of these tools resulted from research projects
supported by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013, which was
passed by Congress in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
highlights were both manned and unmanned aircraft missions in Atlantic
hurricanes to collect data and evaluate forecast models.
and NASA’s missions involving the Global Hawk, an unmanned aircraft
that flies at higher altitudes and for longer periods of time than
manned aircraft, allowed scientists to sample weather information off
the west coast of Africa where hurricanes form, and also to investigate
Hurricane Edouard’s inner core with eight crossings over the
hurricane’s eye. NOAA launched a three-year project to assess the
impact of data collected by the Global Hawk on forecast models and to
design sampling strategies to improve model forecasts of hurricane
track and intensity.
the Global Hawk flew high above hurricanes, NOAA used the much smaller
Coyote, an unmanned aircraft system released from NOAA’s hurricane
hunter manned aircraft, to collect wind, temperature and other weather
data in hurricane force winds during Edouard. The Coyote flew into
areas of the storm that would be too dangerous for manned aircraft,
sampling weather in and around the eyewall at very low altitudes.
addition, NOAA’s hurricane hunters gathered data in Hurricanes Arthur,
Bertha and Cristobal, providing information to improve forecasts and to
test, refine and improve forecast models. The missions were directed by
research meteorologists from NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, a part
of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami,
and the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center in Tampa.
addition, increased research and operational computing capacity planned
in 2015 will facilitate future model upgrades to the GFS and HWRF to
include better model physics and higher resolution predictions. These
upgraded models will provide improved guidance to forecasters leading
to better hurricane track and intensity predictions.
2015 hurricane season begins June 1 for the Atlantic Basin and central
North Pacific, and on May 15 for the eastern North Pacific. NOAA will
issue seasonal outlooks for all three basins in May. Learn how to
prepare at hurricanes.gov/prepare and FEMA’s Ready.gov.
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